Monday, January 30, 2006

Two days ago one of the foam tubes in Savage's ear slipped out of the ear canal and caused the whole brace to fall to one side. Which, in turn, caused his ears to stand crooked. So we struggled to take the tape off, along with the tubes, and then I attempted my first ear-taping. The theory is very simple, and it's pretty quick and easy. Then comes the part where you must make sure both ears are standing straight and even. Fine. That was also fairly easy. Then as soon as I was finished Savage shook his head and one tube popped right out of the ear canal again! Now I know that the tubes have to be further down and the ear has to be stretched out to it's full length before being taped to the tube. Well, then I had to try it again, and this time I made sure the tube was secured farther down. However, it seems it was far enough into the ear that it bothered the puppy, and yesterday he began scratching at it a lot. This morning both his tape and tubes were laying in his crate when I woke up and his little ears were standing beautifully, though I was less than pleased at the job ahead of me. Because this is a two-person job I will have to wait til R. comes home, which means I will be late for work. But K. told me not to leave the ears out for long because once they fall again I will be working against the progress they had made in standing before that. Right now the tip on one ear is already drooping. Damn! I guess I will need to try this a few times before I get it right. The thing that really worries me is getting the ears even. Before he even tore these off I was looking for an excuse to re-tape, as they were still a bit crooked. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise and I certainly need the practice. I think one of the reasons that the taping came off so easily is that I used a cloth tape that didn't stick half as well as the original the vet clinic worker put on. I do have some skin-bond glue but hesitate to use it. The original taping was difficult to get off his ears and took some fur with it. I've heard baby oil works well to soften the glue, but K. warns me that the ears have to be cleaned extremely well after in order to accept the tape again. Tonight we will try this taping stuff again. Hopefully with success!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

9 - 10 Weeks

Tomorrow Savage will be 10 weeks old, and things have been so busy I haven't had time to write this summary until now. The big news involves his ears. Two nights ago he finally got his hat (styrofoam cups) off, and since we had a vet appointment the next day I just let his ears fall naturally for a day. Since the area of his stitches is almost completely healed we decided to start taping them upright, which involves athletic tape and 5/8" foam "caulk-sav'r" tubes. It's actually easier to do than I expected and he looks so handsome with his ears up and moving independently. Because the foam tubes are stuck down into his ear canal they do bother him a little bit, but generally he doesn't seem to notice. I can't wait til his ears stand! He's already so beautiful I can't imagine how awesome he's going to look. Of course, we have a long way to go still.
Two days ago I took Savage on his first real snowmobile ride. Before that I had taken him down the trail about a minute, then turned back. For his first longer ride I wrapped him up in R.'s snowmobile jacket and sat him right behind the gas tank, between my legs so he was secure, and off we went. Of course, going was slow because driving a snowmobile with a great dane in front of you is pretty awkward, and because it was cold, I ended up holding my gloved hand over his face and ears. I can't say he loved it, but he also didn't dislike it. After we visited some friends and I started the sled up he ran right up to it and put his little paws on the running board. Now it occurs to me that I might have created a monster, because it's not going to be long before he won't fit in front of me anymore. Well, at least snowmobiles won't frighten him. He's growing so quickly that I just moved the divider in his crate back to accomodate his size (his weight is 26 pounds). But what's really great is how smart he is. Now that he can get both front legs up on the coffee table he figured out that if he tips over the water glasses he can drink up the water. He has his own stainless steel water bowl in the kitchen, but I'm sure this way is more fun! Just a few days ago he began running to the door and scratching on it when he needs to go potty. I was just floored that he understands this concept this early, especially when my friend's 7+ month old puppy is just beginning to get it. Stuff like this gives me more confidence in my "mom skills". I think Savage and I are bonding so well and he actually listens to me when I correct or praise him. He still cries in the early morning when he wants out of his crate. He still chews absolutely everything within reach. I have bought him dozens of toys, some soft and fluffy, some hard and chewy, but other things are too irresistible. As I'm writing this he's alternating between chewing on R.'s tennis shoe and my full set of keys for the bar. The biggest problem we're facing is getting Savage to chew anything but our arms and pantlegs! A sharp but quiet "no" or "oww!" is understood and then we redirect his attention to one of his toys. This works wonderfully when he's somewhat mellow. When he's completely wired and tearing around the house nothing can stop him from ripping at fingers, toes, faces, etc. In the picture below you can probably see some of the damage he's done to my boyfriend. His arms and face seem to be healing well, though. It's hard to be mad for long. I know Savage NEEDS to chew.
In order to get him used to grooming I did clip his toenails already. Since he's so small I only did the hooks on each one, but he was so tired at the time he just laid still and let me finish the nail-clipping. I hope he learns that the nail-clipper is not the enemy, that it doesn't hurt, and that the calmer he is, and faster it will be over. That all went well and then yesterday morning I let him out of the car at my sister's house and noticed a little blood on the snow!! Seems that Savvy ripped the outside nail on his back left foot almost off!! The strange thing is that both R. and I spent the entire morning with him and never noticed. He didn't yell or act like he was in pain or anything. Then this. The vet examined him and said that the toe itself wasn't dislocated but that the nail should be removed. They reccommended putting him under anesthesia for the operation but I declined. He already went through that for his ear-crop and he's only still a baby. Ended up deciding to take him to a closer vet to get it done and we will do that as soon as possible (tomorrow morning). In the meantime, he isn't bothered by it and it's not infected, therefore I will not be giving him the anti-biotic ammoxicillin that the first vet prescribed for him. I don't want to medicate him for something he doesn't even have yet.
Also, the first vet diagnosed Savage with an umbilical hernia, which is harmless at this point and he suggested be removed when I have Sav's neuter done. I assumed that it was just his belly button healing and the lump would disappear but having no experience with young puppies, I just didn't know. Through all this the idea of pet insurance lurks in the back of my mind, and remains something I have to keep researching.

(Chicken) Bones

Thought I'd just post a sample menu of what I'm feeding Savage at this time. I'm following K.'s suggestions pretty closely, but since I don't want to bother her 3 times a day, I'm having to adjust his diet based on the way he looks and my intuition. According to her, I should be able to easily feel his back ribs, but barely see them.
I feed him 3 times a day now. In the morning around 8am I give him a single chicken leg or thigh; this hardly ever varies. Around noon to 1pm is his lunch, and this is where I introduce new foods. I give him 1/4lb of ground turkey mixed well into 1/2 a mashed, boiled sweet potato. Other days he gets lean ground beef or 1/2 can of pink salmon. I plan to add venison and a little bit of organ meats into the schedule soon. My family, friends, and I are all fishermen/women and I usually have freshwater fish (lake trout, walleye, whitefish) on hand, but K. says to limit fish to once a week. I have cubed beef liver in the freezer to use as treats. Savage gets his dinner either when my boyfriend R. gets home at 6pm to 7pm or when I get home between 11pm to 1am. Usually this meal consists of 1 turkey back or 1/2 a chicken leg quarter.Of course when I tell people what I feed, I immediately get the horrified "chicken bones!!?" outburst. I end up trying to explain what I was told by experienced breeders; bones only splinter when cooked (which is how dogs could get harmed eating them) and Savage gets only RAW meaty bones. Well-meaning strangers (and family members!) also automatically assume they can give Savvy treats, which turn out to be those bone-shaped biscuits, or Slim Jims, or "human food" leftovers, all of which K. warned me not to give him. So if you are new to the raw diet be prepared to gently caution people against this. I sometimes say that he is on a specific, health-conscious diet and new foods or treats could irritate his stomach.
As always, I'd like to let people reading this know that I am new to puppy ownership and the raw diet myself, and I am not an expert. This menu is neither a vet-reccomended diet nor a set of rules, simply my personal guidelines.

Friday, January 20, 2006

(Dog) Bones

Every day Savage changes and grows so much! The quick growth reminds me that because his bones and cartilage develop so fast compared to other smaller breeds, he should not be over-exercised. I'm told that he should not be climbing stairs or anything like that. Now I'm concerned that I'm not treating him properly since I allow him to climb off our futon, though it is very close to the ground. Another question to ask my breeder next time we talk, I guess. The good news is that his little ears are healing wonderfully. The athletic tape that is wrapped around the styrofoam cup (actually two cups stacked) and fixed to the ears with skin-bond glue is finally peeling off and the tips of his ears are poking out. His ears are growing so fast that there is a noticeable gap between the cup and the top of his head. I have an appointment with a veterinary clinic worker (and fellow dane owner) on the 25th and I hope the cup holds up until then so she can help me putting another one on. By the time the second cup is off, his ears should be completely healed. At this point having the cups on doesn't bother him at all.

Monday, January 16, 2006

8 - 9 Weeks

Baby Savage is now 8 weeks and 4 days old. My boyfriend R., and I took out the stitches on his ears 4 days ago (he absolutely hated it and cried throughout, poor boy). His ears are now healing slowly and the itching bothers him only a little. My little guy is over 20lbs and 13 and 1/2" high at the shoulder. It's almost unbelievable that he may reach 170lbs and exceed 32" high when he's an adult!
Because he was so curious and excepting from the night I first met him, my breeder K. felt that it would be all right to start socializing him. Every day we go on short visits to friends' places to meet new people. I also take him to the bar I work at when it's not too busy so he can spend time around all sorts of different people and get used to being petted and fussed over by strangers. Most times he is really well-adjusted. Only a couple incidents with loud noises startled him, but he only ran back to me and then forgot the whole deal quickly.
He's also well house-trained already. The only three accidents were entirely the fault of his owner and her boyfriend. Once I got him out of the car and carried him into the house without giving him a chance to pee, and so naturally, he peed on the floor. The other two times we let him out of his crate first thing in the morning and spent a little two much time putting on boots and jackets and he peed in front of the door before we could open it. Both times he was willing and eager to do the right thing and the mistakes were completely ours. So who's the smart one?

Welcome Home!

This is the first photo of my puppy that I ever saw. This is Savage at 7 weeks old, right after having his little ears cropped. A week later my friend picked him up at the airport on January 10th and he arrived here at his new home on January 11th. At first I was almost scared to even pick him up - he was so tiny! And I was afraid that I'd injure his ears during the healing process. We have spent the last week getting to know eachother and are more comfortable together every day. Though I will get into the details later, the things I'm most impressed about with him are his intelligence and understanding. He is truly a sweet puppy and no doubt will grow into an awesome dog!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

About a week ago, I finally got the word that my puppy application was accepted! I spent around 2 hours on the phone with my breeder, K., and the conversation ended with me writing a check out for a $500 deposit on a blue male. Naturally I was absolutely ecstatic.
That excitement quickly turned into panic as I realized I had about a million things to do before I was actually ready for a puppy in the house. The last week or so has been spent collecting puppy stuff, calling vets, trying to arrange for food sources (raw diet, remember?), etc. I decided to have 8 week old Savage flown into a town (Minneapolis, MN) 4 hours from my home, and today was chaos trying to arrange to have a friend pick him up, send K. the remainder of my payment, and coordinate everything. Everything is getting down to days. Savage arrives in MPLS on January 10th.
By the way, including ear-cropping and the crate for traveling, the total amount I'm paying my breeder is $1754. I spent $300+ on a crate for my house (Midwest Collosal #99, which is what most dane breeders will reccomend), and will give the airline $180 COD for the flight itself. I was prepared for the expense, but it still is a terrible amount of money. I only know that baby Savage will be worth it!!